Oribe Peralta celebrates after scoring one of his three goals in Mexico's 4-2 CONCACAF/Oceania playoff win over host New Zealand on November 20, 2013, in Wellington. (Photo: Mexsport)
WELLINGTON, New Zealand – Oribe Peralta scored three goals as Mexico defeated host New Zealand 4-2 in the second leg of the CONCACAF/Oceania intercontinental playoff on Wednesday to take the series 9-3 on aggregate and advance to next year’s World Cup in Brazil.
Though the majority of fans at Westpac Stadium were not pleased with the final result, they witnessed a fast-paced encounter that teemed with commitment from both sides.
The visitors took a 1-0 lead in the 14th minute, when the influential Carlos Peña slipped a brilliant pass into the box for Peralta. The Santos star’s left-footed shot took a slight deflection off a sliding New Zealand defender, before it popped gently into the net.
Peralta doubled El Tri’s lead 14 minutes later. Luis Montes played a ball to Miguel Layun on the left side of the penalty area. The Club America standout delivered sharply across the box for the charging forward to fire home from the edge of the six-yard box.
Mexico extinguished any New Zealand hopes of a possible rally in the 33rd minute. Peña found himself with the ball on the left side of the box and instinctively sent a pass towards the six-yard box for the omnipresent Peralta to sweep in with his left foot.
The goal was Peralta’s 10th in 11 matches during this qualifying cycle and seventh in his last four.
New Zealand’s best chance of the first half came in the 39th minute. Jeremy Brockie, however, saw his penalty kick be saved by Moises Muñoz after the goalkeeper was judged to have fouled him in the area.
Though Mexico continued to control the game, the All Whites were awarded another penalty kick in the latter stages of the second half. On this occasion, Rafael Marquez was whistled for a handball inside his own area. Chris James converted in the 80th minute to make it 3-1 with his second goal in as many games.
At the crowd’s urging, New Zealand continued to attack and was rewarded for its perseverance in the 83rd minute. From the left side, Brockie found an unmarked Rory Fallon, who left-footed past a stranded Muñoz.
With four minutes left in regulation time, Peña capped off a spectacular performance with a deserved goal of his own. Jesus Escoboza provided the assist from right side of the box that the Leon midfielder stroked past goalkeeper Glen Moss with unruffled ease.
Mexico qualified for its six straight World Cup and 15th overall, reaching the Round of 16 in the last five editions of the event.
Seven of the 11 starters against New Zealand, plus on-loan head coach Miguel Herrera, came from current Mexican champion Club America.